Here you'll find an assorted mix of content from yours truly. I post about a lot
of things, but primarily
Shenzhen Adventure Day 24
30 Jun 2015
With my back still in significant pain from the previous nights massages, it
was time for the South China Material City.
The South China Material City is an industrial region situated in Shenzhen where
you can go to get raw goods or materials in bulk quantity.
It’s basically a big outdoor mall where you can go into one of many vendors and find
anything you need, from gears to leather. Everyone is very hospitable and there were
offers of tea at some of the shops.
There was also some (very large) indoor malls, with lots of outlet priced goods:
There was also some more random stuff, like people drying spices on their shop fronts:
Or a seemingly abandoned amusement park:
You really could find anything there, from chemical supplies:
To raw plastics used for cables (something like $10/25 kg):
That one is absurd – knives on carabiner clips to cut your rope?
Sewing machines – from new, to very old:
Papercraft store where you can get nice boxes made:
Lastly, there was cool finished good store with lots of cool electronics:
Overall, one of the funniest parts of the South China Material City was all the
samples people were willing to give for free. I got clips, bracelets, ropes,
fabrics, and many other things for free or very cheap. I almost made it into a
game to see if I could get something at every vendor I stopped by. The odd
thing is that when I contacted one of the suppliers to buy more bracelets (as
gifts for my return) they never got back to me!
Shenzhen Adventure Evening 23
29 Jun 2015
In the evening of the 23rd, we took a trip over to a local massage parlor.
Before you crack any jokes about what goes on in the massage parlor (yes, that
does still exist if you want to find it), that’s not why we went to the massage
parlor. We went to kick back Shenzhen Style! No photos of this trip, for better
or for worse.
The massage parlor is kind of like a rest and relaxation hotel. You can stay
there all night if you want to. When we showed up, we had to give the
receptionist passports in accordance with Chinese law for overnight stays.
When you get to the parlor, you split off by gender, and then you take a
Next, there’s a large public bath (naked!) where you can go to enjoy some cool
refreshing water, ice cold water, and steamy hot water.
Following your dip in the public bath, you get a robe and slippers and head on
over to the main massage area. Here, you get a huge comfy recliner chair, the
kind you could easily sleep in.
Then, a host comes over and offers you the menu, where you can order various
beverages (such as watermelon juice or beer) and massages. Bunnie was trying to
order a green tea for a very long time, because he kept on accidentally saying
road fork (they both sound like “lu cha”).
Typically you start off with some light treatments, such as a foot massage or,
if you’re feeling like it, an ear scrape (I wasn’t bold enough so I stuck to
the foot massage). Then, you can get a larger treatment if you like, your
choice of different varieties of back massage, such as a Traditional
Chinese Medicine or Thai Oil.
As I was told it was the most traditional was indeed the Traditional Chinese
Medicine Massage, I opted for that. A few minutes later, some doctors (of the
tcm variety) came to us and led us to the massage tables.
Now, I want to reserve my language somewhat, especially when it comes to
experiencing another culture, but FUCK EVERYTHING ABOUT THE TCM MASSAGE. It was
horrible, horrible pain for like an hour. The doctor systematically found every
pain and pressure point in my back and body and dug and jabbed them
mercilessly. As I squealed in pain, the doctor only laughed and prodded more.
If I had any secrets I’m sure he could have gotten me to reveal them.
For the rest of the week, my back was in pretty awful pain. I don’t think I’ll
be back for a TCM massage again, but I’d go back for a Thai Oil Massage (that’s
what you normally think of when you hear “massage”).
After the massage, there are some other facilities (such as ping pong) to hang
out and relax with, but I think I was too much in pain to want to take
advantage of that.
Overall, the massage parlor is a pretty good deal. For about 300RMB (around
~$50 USD) you get an overnight place to stay as well as massages and
entertainment. Would definitely recommend it for your trip out to Shenzhen, but
avoid the TCM massage.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 23
29 Jun 2015
For Day 23 we’re going to take a look at a furniture factory. This is a HUGE
factory; probably the largest we saw on our trip, spanning many many hangars.
Unfortunately I didn’t take too many pictures at this factory.
We start our journey in the furniture factory with some basic processing of raw materials:
The beams get cut up into little pieces and glued together.
Did I mention that it’s a large factory?
Two Kinds of Leg
They make a lot of varieties of furniture!
These gorgeous wood tables are all for domestic market! Too big to ship.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 20
26 Jun 2015
The precision casting plant was really neat! They have some pretty major
clients, which you might be able to guess from some of the photos (but probably best
if this doesn’t show up in the search results).
This factory uses the cutting edge technologies to make über precise
A precision mold starts with precision materials. The materials they make use
of here are void free, meaning that there are no microscopic pockets or bubbles
in the material which would make it hard to machine precisely.
Pretty sure this specific piece is tungsten.
The blanks are then given a rough CNC cut, and then brought to a precision
grinder where a worker uses a device to trim all edges. The device scales all
of the workers movements by a large factor, and greatly magnifies the part. A
bouncing rotary tool allows the worker to grind away slowly.
The next step is an ablation process which uses a super high current arc to
blast off material bit by bit and polish the mold and give it a mirror finish
(if I recall correctly).
The polished mold pieces are very pretty!
The finished pieces are then assembled into a mold housing.
The parts are made by injection molding a metal powder into the mold. These are
very delicately held together, you could easily snap them with your bare hands.
They are then forged at high heat, which bonds the metal, making it very strong.
Hmm… where have I seen this part in the wild ;)
Overall, this is a process you could hope-to-afford one day when either prices
come down, your company is doing really well, or you are operating in a niche
that requires it. Despite being somewhat inaccessible, it was really cool to
get to see how it all comes together!
Shenzhen Adventure Day 20
26 Jun 2015
A question you dread your child asking – where do mannequins come from?
Well in today’s blog, we’ll find out!
This factory was very perspective changing. Usually, people think of China as
being for knock-off or unoriginal products, but the Mannequin Factory was
somewhat akin to a pop-art-at-scale Andy Warhol-esque plant. There were a lot of
original ideas and very skilled hand craftsmen. The company owner/head artist
was a very charismatic Chinese man, he gave us a really wonderful tour of his
Check out some of the really cool pieces designed here:
A mannequin starts with a sculptor making a small mockup to play with style and
Then the sculptor produces a master mannequin:
Shaping the form.
From that mannequin, molds are made:
From the molds, mannequins are cast:
Casts are done using fiberglass
A particularly sad looking mold curing.
The factory operates at a pretty large scale!
A lot of casts being made!
I like this show because you can see casts being freshly opened and queued for
the next phase.
After casting, the mannequins are powdercoated/painted/glossed.
After painting, blemishes are marked and repaired:
Red tape is used to mark the faults.
Optionally, cosmetics (or other finishing touches) are applied:
They keep copies of various parts of mannequins that they have produced in the
past, in case they want to reference old work.
This factory also has an on-site water treatment facility
It was not quite as involved as the one at the leather treatment facility, but
this factory does do a lot of sanding and painting so they treat their waste
There are definitely odd things to see in a mannequin factory, or if not odd,
visually striking sights. Here are a few images, left without comment:
I got a really fantastic parting gift at this factory… an arm!
This will be fun to take through customs…
I’d love to do a project with it like turn it into a handy desk lamp. It’s made
of a very nice quality wood.